Press Releases

    GA/AB/3683
    12 September 2005

    Fifth Committee Approves Nearly $1 Million in Additional Resources for General Assembly President, Defers Action on Capital Master Plan

    Concluding 59th Session, Committee Informed that Loan Interest Rate for Master Plan, if Accepted after October, Would Not Exceed 5.35 Per Cent

    NEW YORK, 9 September (UN Headquarters) -- Adopting a decision on the programme budget implications of a resolution on a strengthened and revitalized General Assembly days before its new session begins, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today decided to inform the Assembly that should it adopt that text, additional resources of nearly $1 million would be required during the current and next budgetary periods.

    By the terms of the draft decision, adopted without a vote and as orally amended, the Committee decided to inform the Assembly that should it adopt the resolution on the revitalization of the General Assembly, additional resources of up to $116,300 would be required under section 1 of the 2004-2005 programme budget.  For the 2006-2007 proposed programme budget, additional requirements of up to $823,300 for the Office of the President of the General Assembly and up to $60,300 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs, would be needed.

    By the terms of the resolution before the Committee (document A/59/L.69/Rev.1), which the Assembly is expected to consider on Monday, 12 September, the Assembly would decide to augment the resources available to the Office of the President -- from within existing resources -- to provide for two additional posts at management and senior levels to be filled on an annual basis.  The Secretary-General would be requested to ensure that the President is provided with proper protocol services at Headquarters and other duty stations.  By other terms, the Secretary-General would be requested to issue the Assembly's rules of procedure in a consolidated version in all official languages in print and on line.

    Warren Sach, United Nations Controller, introducing the Secretary-General's statement on the matter, noted that two further additional senior-level posts at the D-2 and P-5 levels would be required for the Office of the President, giving rise to requirements in the balance of the current biennium and in the 2006-2007 proposed programme budget.  On the provision of proper protocol services, a new P-3 post would be needed to take care of requirements currently provided to date on an ad hoc basis.  Some $138,100 would be needed in the new biennium for that post.  Also, an estimated $60,300 would be needed for general temporary assistance for three work months to provide an updated issuance of the Assembly's rules of procedure.

    Introducing the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), its Acting Chairman, Rajat Saha, pointed out the actual amount of resources required to support the President would be determined by the Assembly on the basis of such recommendations as the Fifth Committee might make on the proposed programme budget.  No existing capacity could currently be identified for additional posts from within existing resources.  Concerning the provision of proper protocol services, the ACABQ was not convinced that the provision of "proper protocol services" required the creation of a dedicated and additional established post at the current time.

    By the terms of another draft decision adopted without a vote today, the Committee decided to defer to the Assembly's sixtieth session consideration of a series of reports on the Capital Master Plan under item 108 of 2004-2005 programme budget.

    Expressing her views on the draft, the representative of the United States noted that while her delegation would have liked to conclude discussions on the Capital Master Plan resolution, she was pleased to report that the United States Government would continue to be able to offer a loan offer once the current offer expired at the end of September.  Due to a better forecast for the United States economy, the maximum interest rate for the loan, if accepted after 1 October, would be 5.35 per cent.  The other terms of the loan remained the same.  A formal offer letter would be sent to the Secretary-General in October, once the United States new fiscal year began.

    Also making statements today were the representatives of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Cuba, Egypt, Japan, India and Mexico.

    With today's meeting, the Fifth Committee concluded its work for the fifty-ninth session.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to conclude its work for the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly.  It was expected to take up the programme budget implications of a resolution on a strengthened and revitalized General Assembly and to take action on a draft decision regarding questions deferred for future consideration.

    Before the Committee was a draft resolution submitted by the General Assembly President on a strengthened and revitalized General Assembly (document A/59/L.69/Rev.1).  By it, the Assembly would decide to take measures to strengthen its own role and authority; to strengthen the role and leadership of the Assembly President; to establish an ad hoc working group to identify further enhancements of the Assembly's work; and to streamline documentation. 

    Regarding the General Assembly President, by the terms of the draft, the Assembly would decide to strengthen the President's role and leadership by, among other things, authorizing him to propose interactive debates on current issues on the Assembly's agenda; augment the resources available to the Office from within existing resources, subject to consideration by the Assembly of the Secretary-General's 2006-2007 proposed budget, to provide for two further additional posts at management and senior levels to be filled on an annual basis following consultations with the incoming President beginning at the sixtieth session. 

    Also before the Committee was a statement submitted by the Secretary-General containing the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/59/L.69/Rev.1 (document A/C.5/59/35/Rev.1).  The Secretary-General notes that should the Assembly adopt that resolution, additional resources amounting to $116,300 would be required under section 1, Overall policy-making, direction and coordination, of the 2004-2005 programme budget.  Every effort would be made to accommodate the requirements within the appropriation for the biennium.  The actual costs would be reported in the second financial performance report for the 2004-2005 biennium.

    In addition, the statement notes that the adoption of draft resolution A/59/L.69/Rev.1 would give rise to additional resource requirements of some $1.02 million under section 1, Overall policy-making, direction and coordination ($961,400, comprising $823,300 for the Office of the General Assembly President and $138,100 for the Protocol and Liaison Service); and section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($60,300), of the 2006-2007 proposed programme budget.

    In its related report (document A/59/910), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) notes that, in its first report on the 2006-2007 proposed programme budget, it comments extensively on the need for the Secretary-General to manage the Secretariat as a whole and the need for flexibility in the deployment and redeployment of resources.  The General Assembly may wish to take those recommendations into account when considering the matter.

    Regarding the provision of proper protocol services to the General Assembly President at Headquarters and other United Nations duty stations, the report states that the ACABQ was not convinced that the provision of "proper protocol services" requires the creation of a dedicated and additional established post at the current time. 

    Concerning the issuance of the Assembly's rules of procedure, the ACABQ, noting the level of resources proposed to be made available to the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management for 2006-2007, believes that every effort should be made to absorb those costs.  The ACABQ recommends that the Fifth Committee inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt the resolution, additional resources of up to $116,300 would be required under section 1 of the 2004-2005 programme budget.  It notes that efforts would be made to accommodate the requirements within the appropriation for the biennium; the actual costs, if any, would be reported in the second performance report.  The adoption of the draft resolution would also give rise to additional resource requirements of up to $941,400 under section 1, and up $603,000 under section 2, of the proposed programme budget for 2006-2007.

    By a draft decision on a strengthened and revitalized General Assembly (to be issued as document A/C.5/59/L.80), the Assembly would approve the additional programme budget implications of the resolution on that subject.  That is, additional resources of $116,300 would be approved for carrying out the proposed measures with every effort made to accommodate the requirements within the appropriation for the 2004-2005 biennium.  Actual costs would be reported in context of the second performance report for that biennium.

    Also approved would be additional resource requirements for the proposed programme budget for the 2006-2007 biennium.  That would include funding of up to $961,400 under the section, on Overall policy-making, direction and coordination, with $823,300 for the Office of the President of the General Assembly and $138,100 for the Protocol and Liaison Service; and up to $60,300 under the section on General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management.  Those expenditures would be considered in context of the proposed programme budget review for the 2006-2007 biennium.

    Also before the Committee is a draft decision submitted by the Vice-Chairman on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/59/L.79), by which the Assembly would decide to defer until its sixtieth session item 108 of the 2004-2005 programme budget regarding the Capital Master Plan.

    Introduction of Reports

    WARREN SACH, United Nations Controller, introduced the statement containing the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/59/L.69/Rev.1, noting that there were three main elements regarding financial requirements, should the Assembly decide to adopt that text.  The first concerned two further additional senior posts in the President's Office.  The second related to the provision of proper protocol, and the third concerned the issuance of the Assembly's rules of procedure.  In paragraphs 3 and 4 of the resolution, two further additional senior levels posts were indicated at the D-2 and P-5 levels, giving rise to requirements in the balance of the current and forthcoming biennium. 

    On the second main elements of proper protocol services, he said it had been interpreted as needing a new P-3 post to take care of requirements provided to date on an ad hoc basis.  The basis of a new P-3 post in the new biennium was estimated at some $138,100.  Regarding the requirements identified, some $60,300 would be estimated for general temporary assistance for three work months to provide an updated issuance of the rules of procedure.

    Introducing its related report, RAJAT SAHA, Acting Chairman of the ACABQ said that it had received an advance text of the statement of programme budget implications on Wednesday, 7 September, had held hearings on the matter and approved the report before the Committee on the same day.  In other words, the entire task had been completed in one day.  The ACABQ paid special attention to the statement in paragraph 3b of the draft resolution that augmentation of resources available to the Office would, among other things, be subject to the Assembly's consideration of the Secretary-General's proposed programme budget.  That was important in view of need to maintain an ordinary budgetary process. 

    He noted that in the ACABQ's opinion, paragraph 3b was in the spirit of Assembly resolution 58/270, which reaffirmed that the Fifth Committee was the appropriate Main Committee of the General Assembly entrusted with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters.  Under the circumstances, he pointed out the actual amount of resources required to support the Assembly President would be determined by the Assembly on the basis of such recommendations as the Fifth Committee might make on the proposed programme budget.  No existing capacity could currently be identified to provide the requirements for additional posts from within existing resources. 

    In that connection, he suggested that the Assembly, when considering the matter, take into account the ACABQ's comments in its first report for the 2006-2007 proposed programme budget concerning the need for the Secretary-General to manage the Secretariat as a whole, as well as the need for flexibility in the deployment of resources.  The Advisory Committee recommended that whatever was decided should be subject to review after an appropriate period of time. 

    The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, then proposed several amendments, which, he said, brought the draft resolution more in line with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee.

    According to the suggested amendments, he said the first paragraph of the text would be revised to read "up to" $116,300.  In the last sentence of that paragraph, the words "if any" would be added after "actual costs".  The second paragraph would say:  "Having considered the detailed recommendations of the ACABQ, decides to inform the General Assembly that the adoption of the draft resolution would also give rise to additional resource requirements of up to $823,300 under section 1, Overall policy-making, direction and coordination ($823,300 for the Office of the President of the General Assembly) and up to $60,300 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007.  The line "$138,100 for the Protocol and Liaison Service" would be deleted from the text.

    He said the impact of amendments was to make it clear that the General Assembly would not be considering the establishment of a P-3 post in the Protocol Office.

    The representative of Japan said he had no objection to the proposal.  He noted that the adoption of the text would not impact the Committee's consideration of the item in the sixtieth session.

    The representative of Egypt stressed that the adoption of the draft was an important part of the process of United Nations reform.  Strengthening the Office of the Assembly President emphasized his leadership role in dealing with the matters on the Assembly's agenda.  He expressed support for strengthening the Office so that the President could undertake the important tasks before him.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee then adopted the draft resolution, as orally amended, to be issued as document A/C.5/59/L.80.

    The Committee then turned to the draft decision contained in document A/C.5/59/L.79 on questions deferred for future consideration.

    Expressing her views on the draft, the representative of the United States said her delegation would have liked to conclude discussions on the Capital Master Plan resolution.  It appeared that the Committee would not be able to come to agreement on the resolution under discussion at the current time.  She said it would be best to return to the issue of the Capital Master Plan at the upcoming sixtieth session.  As previously indicated, the terms of the current offer expired at the end of September.  Accordingly, the delegation had gone back to its capital regarding potential revised loan terms for the period starting 1 October. 

    She said she was pleased to report that the United States Government would continue to be able to offer a loan once the current offer expired.  Due to a better forecast for the United States economy, the maximum interest rate for the loan, if accepted after 1 October, would be 5.35 per cent.  The other terms remained the same.  The United States would be happy to provide variations with different loan periods and distribution rate assumptions that would lower the interest rate.  A formal offer letter would be sent to the Secretary-General in October, once the United States new fiscal year began.

    Her delegation looked forward to continuing the discussions on the financing of the Capital Master Plan in the next session, she said.  It continued to be in the interest of Member States to support the Secretary-General in entering into a loan agreement with the United States Government in order to preserve the loan as a financing option, and she looked forward to working with other delegations. 

    Cuba's representative, noting that he had been away from New York for two months, said he was surprised to see progress had not been made on the matter.  He agreed with the decision to approve the draft, but it was something that should have been done before.  The Committee should not spend time on meetings which had not been fruitful due to a lack of decision-making and the way in which the whole negotiation process had been conducted.  He would await the new proposal of the host country.  At that point, his delegation would offer its comments.

    The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed the importance the Union placed on the Capital Master Plan project and thanked the representative of the United States for the information she had provided.  He hoped that the Committee would be able to move forward on the issue swiftly in the next session.

    India's representative said it had been the wish of everyone to wrap up the item and either accept or not accept the loan offer.  It was good that the United States economy was improving so that a lower rate could be offered.  He hoped that the economy would continue to improve so that the interest rate could go even lower.

    The Committee then adopted the draft decision without a vote.

    MHD. NAJIB ELJI (Syria), Committee Vice-Chairman, made a briefing closing statement, saying that it had been one of the Committee's most important sessions ever.  While some had expressed doubts that the Committee could carry out its work, it had again demonstrated its flexibility.

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